Tagged: Star-Lord

Mindy Newell: Bend Over

“I won’t be ig-NORED, Dan,” said Alex Forest (Glenn Close) to her illicit lover Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) in Fatal Attraction. And so said a large enough number of disconcerted people who were fed up with being ig-NORED by the political elite gathered around the Potomac basin to swing the Electoral College vote in favor of Donald Trump. Go fuck yourselves, they said. Bend over, said Trump.

It’s been one lie after another, one alternative fact after another, and one tweet after another since the inauguration, all to assuage the ego of the malignant narcissist who sits in the oval office. His sickophants trip over each other in their eagerness to obfuscate the truth and stay in their own bubbles of power. Erstwhile enemies, thugs, and bullies are welcomed and coddled and credit is taken where it is not due. Everything is upside down and inside out. And then this happened:

The Washington Post, Friday, May 26: “Jared Kushner and Russia’s ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, according to U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports.”

Reuters, Saturday, May 27: “U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and close adviser, Jared Kushner, had at least three previously undisclosed contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States during and after the 2016 presidential campaign, seven current and former U.S. officials told Reuters.”

What the fuck?!!

And what did his father-in-law have to say – I mean, tweet? “It is my opinion that many of the leaks coming out of the White House are fabricated lies made up by the #FakeNews media.” He also said: “Jared is doing a great job for the country… I have total confidence in him. He is respected by virtually everyone and is working on programs that will save our country billions of dollars. In addition to that, and perhaps more importantly, he is a very good person.” Which statement do you think reflects the real Donald? One is from the gut, the other, im-not so-ho, came from some political toady assigned to make Il Trumpci sound more erudite.

Today is Monday, May 29. Jared Kushner still sits at his father-in-law’s right hand, his Senior White House Advisor.

Get fucked, said the people to the Washington establishment.

Bend over, said Trump.

Look, I know this isn’t a political site, and I’m supposed to be talking about comics and pop culture. But some days – and it’s becoming more and more difficult not to say every day – it’s really hard not to dwell on the way words like integrity and honor and truth are fading away from the American zeitgeist.

And this brings me to yesterday’s column by my pal John Ostrander.

I do not miss an episode of Real Time. I love Bill Maher. I love that he is not afraid to say what he thinks, despite – and maybe just because – he knows he has a large bulls-eye painted right between his eyes, that he would be among the first to be jailed, and maybe even worse if Il Trumpci could have his way and arrest journalists, as the New York Times reported on May 17 (“Trump’s Urging That Comey Jail Reporters Denounced as an ‘Act of Intimidation’”). Yes, I know Maher is a comic and a political commentator, but Il Trumpci is incapable of splitting hairs.

My love of Maher doesn’t mean that I always agree with him, and when I watched and listened to his diatribe during the “New Rules” segment, I was, at first, like John, angered and dismayed. I was surprised that he didn’t get it.

Just as in the Great Depression, when people escaped the misery of their lives by escaping to movies in which an impeccably tuxedoed Fred Astaire and gorgeously gowned Ginger Rogers danced and sang in front of a backdrop of fantasized night clubs and hotels and apartments, and the plucky and adorable Shirley Temple beat insurmountable odds to survive “happily every after,” today’s audiences seek relief from the constant negativity around them, and they (we) find it in super-hero movies and television shows. Not because they are waiting for “Star-Lord and a fucking raccoon to sweep in and save our sorry asses” (well, some, maybe, and if so, they have a long wait), but because underneath it all there is a yearning for the abstract principles we learned in Social Studies class or in movies like Saving Private Ryan and The Longest Day and even Camelot to be true – not might is right, but might for right.” A yearning for “truth, justice, and the American way.”

But, people, I also get where Bill was coming from. He was saying that We, the People must not wait for King Arthur to return. He was saying that We, the People must not pin our hopes on fictional heroes in colorful costumes. He was saying that We, the People must be our own heroes. He was saying, “get your noses out of your asses and smell the roses. Stop looking at your phones, and look at the fucking world. For fuck’s sake, act.”

He’s angry and mystified and screaming what the fuck!!?

But here’s another thought: Everybody needs a hero. And you, Bill Maher, and you, Stephen Colbert, and Samantha Bee, and Jimmy Fallon, and John Oliver, and Trevor Noah, and Seth Meyer, and every other comedic commentator, every public persona who speaks truth to power, are real superheroes; are Star-Lord and Superman and Wonder Woman and Iron Man and Black Widow and Captain America and Batman and Supergirl and The Flash and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. They are Jessica Jones and Luke Cage and The Defenders.

Bend over, Donald.

Box Office Democracy: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is an amazingly charming movie.  The characters they’ve constructed over these two movies are each a delight.  There’s an infectious camaraderie that makes it feel like it must be the best movie set to work on the there ever was.  The infectious joy and prodigious joke density easily carries a slightly disjointed script through the murky bits.  I don’t need everything to make sense or even be particularly important as long as I’m having fun and the rest of the theater is having fun.  There aren’t many movies more infectiously fun than Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

There are two separate stories being told in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. In one Star-Lord meets his father, Ego the Living Planet (Kurt Russell), and goes to his home planet (or his self? There’s nothing in the MLA rules about this) along with Gamora and Drax.  Why do Gamora and Drax come with him?  It would appear to balance the crew between the two stories because both of them barely interact with this story from the time they land on the planet until the third act.  In the other story, Rocket Racoon and Groot are captured by Ravagers and are going to be turned in for some sort of bounty involving stolen batteries.  This storyline is mostly about making baby Groot jokes and having people mistake Rocket for another kind of rodent.  It eventually hooks back up with the rest of the crew— not because it needs to, but more because they’re done.  These plots are not grand adventures in storytelling but rather a frame for character moments and jokes and they’re just fine for that, but I think they deserve to be called out for being a bit sparse.

The Guardians are such wonderfully distinct characters though.  Drax’s laugh is the glue that holds the first half of the movie together.  It isn’t what I thought would happen to the Drax character on the big screen, but he’s basically all comedy at this point with little action in sight.  Bradley Cooper is never going to get any recognition for this, but he’s doing fabulous work as Rocket.  He imbues a lot of humanity in to a character it would be so easy to not take seriously.  Rocket has a tearjerker of a line near the end that could easily fall flat.  The best scene in the whole film is between Gamora and Nebula talking about their familial relationship.  I never thought it would be believable to transition Nebula to the side of the Guardians after all the bad blood in the last movie and they accomplish it in three lines.  It’s the best scene between two women in any Marvel movie and I understand I’m not setting a particularly high bar.  It’s high now.

James Gunn has made a great looking movie.  There are so many shots with so much going on and they’re especially fun to take in in 3D.  There’s this concerted effort to have stuff going on in the background of shots and it’s a great way to sneak stuff in.  It looks an awful lot like a 1970s cosmic comic book.  I wouldn’t say Kirby-esque, I think we’re too liberal with Kirby-esque, it doesn’t look like Jack Kirby drew it but it looks an awful lot like Walter Simonson and that’s no slight.  The sequence that caps off the Rocket Racoon plot is the best of the whole film, it’s a great bit of elaborate camera work and fun violence.  The climax of the main plot is a little less impressive if only because there are a lot of supposed to be dramatic moments of people facing down grey goo.  Grey goo is not that scary.

Go see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.  It’s a great time.  Get a big popcorn and a smaller drink (it’s a very long movie) and just enjoy being in an air conditioned room with other people having a good time.  My wife remarked that the emphasis on family and reforming some former adversaries makes this Guardians feel like a step toward transitioning to a sort of Fast & Furious in space thing. I agree, and there’s nothing I would rather see from Marvel than something that leans so in to that kind of joy and absurdity.  I hope they can do it.